Kaya’s New Dress

Frank, my husband, was gone for Valentine’s Day, which didn’t matter that much, but I also happened to be very ill, and there were some bad snowstorms during which I needed to move the car… anyway, I won’t go on, but him being gone at that time was pretty awful. He felt bad and so, when I mentioned to him that weekend that American Girl had just put new things out, he humored me and looked. And ordered. Of course he didn’t flat out tell me, and played as many mindgames as he could, asking if I thought the new outfit for Kaya was worth it, if I thought it’d still be in stock for my birthday in April, etc.

I should here note that Kaya is essentially my husband’s doll, in that he and he alone is allowed to buy me stuff for her. He’s her favorite of all the dolls. He takes great pride in buying things for her –especially non-AG things, like the incredible handmade wolf he got me for her at Christmas this year. Though I got Kaya for myself when I had friends visiting in town, it was he the next day that helped me pick out her replacement, and convinced me to get the rest of her outfits, and it’s continued from there. He’s sought out her retired outfits on eBay for me, etc.

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BUT the outfit. The outfit arrived Friday and Kaya has been in it since, and will probably stay in it through the rest of February just because it is so cheery, even though I intend it to be her spring outfit.

Usually when American Girl puts out a pink outfit for the historicals, there’s a bit of sighing and teeth-gnashing from me. I get it, little girls like pink. I actually like pink a lot too. But there’s just so much of it, especially for dolls that would not have necessarily had an over-abundance of pink things. And for some dolls, like Kit who hates pink, it’s just mean.

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So a very tiny part of me is aware that Kaya’s pink outfit is, as my husband actually put it, “pretty garish.” The dress is the shiny fabric like her blue jingle outfit. The boots, vest, and belt are bright blue with yellow trim and beautiful embroidery. It’s pink and green and yellow and blue everywhere.

But I confess, I love it. The yellow roses remind me of my Texas home. The clovers remind me of my Irish heritage. The pink and blue and yellow look absolutely beautiful against her dark skin and dark hair. She just looks so bright and happy and festive in it. I love her realistic period-appropriate clothes, but I also admit I love her modern outfits because she just looks so beautiful in bright colors.

And the boots. And the vest. I cannot get past how frigging cute they are. I knew from Josefina that I’m a big fan of these short vests they make. They’re just precious.

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I appreciate that she can hold the drum. I’ve taped the baton to her hand so that she’s holding both, but I would have been pretty annoyed (though it would have been expected) if the drum was just a prop. Instead there’s a stretchy band on the back for you to loop it over her hand. I so strongly prefer this sort of “interactive” accessory because it does mean it feels like part of the outfit.

In terms of drawbacks, though. The price. There’s no getting around the price. $64 is a lot of money, even for a Kaya dress. In the past, I’ve felt like Kaya’s outfits were the most value for the money because of the embroidery, the jingles, the beadwork, the materials. This outfit is not made from expensive materials like her historic outfit. It is true that Kaya’s outfits also come with more “pieces” which feels like it gives them more bang for your buck, bur one can’t ignore that the bottom dress is pretty simple and basic, it is pink, and the accessories are cute but also pretty basic.

Would I pay $64? Well, my husband did. I wouldn’t buy a $64 outfit for my child, especially knowing pieces will get lost or broken. As a collector? Closer… but as a collector I am generally more interested in the historic outfits. Also, if I’m spending $64 for each outfit for her, that pretty quickly adds up. It means even if I do bite the bullet, I’m going to be shopping way less frequently and, to be honest, probably checking out handmade items on etsy a lot more frequently. $64 is a tough pill to swallow for items that, while cute, are still mass produced.

Were you to ask me “what’s the ideal price for this set?” I’d probably answer $45. $45-50 is the ideal price to me, and what I’d feel like is expensive but worth the quality. But again, that’s also as a collector. I am well aware that I am not in the socioeconomic group that I’ll be buying $64 oufits for my kids, and my parents NEVER would have gotten this for me. Fortunately my husband spoils me a bit more. 🙂

So if the $64 outfit/accessory sets is where American Girl is going for the historicals, my shopping habits will slow down significantly with them, largely because I think there are very few outfit/accessory sets I’ll feel like I can rationalize spending $64 on unless they are just above and beyond.

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